With the Dallas Stars OT loss to Phoenix last night, they are seven points back from the eighth seed with six games to play. They are done. Unfortunately the team directly above them in the standings is the Minnesota Wild. So now it’s time to start stringing some wins together.
There are six teams in the Western Conference competing for the 6-8 spots (Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis, Anaheim, Edmonton, Minnesota). All of them have six games remaining. Of those 36 games, six of them are against each other, so only 30 games remain to determine the Wild’s season. Unfortunately, with hockey’s multifaceted standings points system that still means there are over 282 trillion possible combinations of outcomes. It’s not really worth it to run an exhaustive calculation of all those scenarios, so I’ll pick one to give an example of what it’s going to take.
From here on out if all six teams win all their home games, but lose all their away games the final standings will look like this (no overtime losses – just to divorce this example even further from reality)
Columbus – 92 pts
Edmonton – 91 pts
Minnesota – 88 pts
Nashville – 88 pts
Anaheim – 86 pts
St. Louis – 85 pts
In this case, the Wild win the tiebreak on goal differential with Nashville to get into the playoffs by the slimmest of margins.
So there’s one option, cheer like mad for the home teams from here on out. And no 3-point overtime games for the other guys (especially in games like Edmonton-Anaheim and Columbus-Nashville tonight).
Most importantly of course the Wild have got to take care of business. Vancouver’s been on fire trying to chase down Calgary for the division crown. If they beat both teams this week, then the Wild can’t be accused of playing favorites, so that’s probably the best option.